LITTLE VALLEY - 'Aunt' Esther Westendorf, of Little Valley, passed quietly at the age of 101 at Father Baker Manor in Orchard Park on Thursday (Oct. 13, 2016). Born on April 26, 1915, to the late Emma (Glow) and Carl Westendorf. Esther was a lifelong educator. She graduated Little Valley High School at the age of 16 and graduated from Buffalo State Teacher's College. She began her teaching career at the age of 20 as one of the last teachers at the California Hill one-room schoolhouse in the town of Mansfield, a couple of miles from the family farm. She continued her teaching career in Arcade, then West Seneca, where she focused more on teaching reading. Esther spent several years as a saleswoman for DC Heath, covering schools in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. She missed the classroom and returned to teaching reading in the Long Island schools of Wantagh and Freeport. While at Wantagh, in 1958, she wrote "English is our Language," a text for teaching reading. During that time, she earned her Doctorate of Teaching at Columbia University. In the mid-1960s, she accepted a professorship at Plattsburgh State College, Plattsburgh. She moved past teaching reading to teaching future teachers how to teach reading. Her professional dedication and accomplishments culminated in her being President of the New York State Reading Association. She spent several years supervising future teachers in their student teaching block program which brought her to many North Country schools. She retired to the family farm in 1978, where she lived with and cared for her mother, Emma Westendorf, until her passing at the age of 98 in September 1986. Esther continued to live at the farm and be an active member of the community into her mid-90s. Esther loved the farm. She returned there every summer during school breaks. Once retired, she modernized it adding central heat and replacing the spring with a well. A recurring theme with her nephews for many years was, "What do you think you will do with the farm?" She supported and encouraged her nephews' continued modernization and improvements over the last several years. She loved to travel as well. She traveled to Europe several times, as well as Alaska, the Grand Canyon mule trip, Russia and China. She and her older sister, Marie, of Arcade, traveled many times together. Esther was an active member of her church families. Her grandparents were founding members of St. Michael's Lutheran Church of Little Valley where she was treasurer and taught Sunday School after her retirement. She was active at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Plattsburgh. She eventually moved her membership to St. Paul's Lutheran Church of Ellicottville. Esther also spent several years volunteering at the Salamanca Hospital and participated in local quilting projects with her mother. She is survived by three nephews, Geoffrey Johnson (Bobbie) Grand Blanc of Michigan, Neal Westendorf (Bonnie-Jo) of Hudson, and Keith Westendorf (Theresa) of Orchard Park; seven grandnieces and grandnephews, Monique Frechette, Eric Johnson, Raquel Lohrman, Tyler Johnson, Aaron Westendorf, Caitlyn Soltes and Jonathon Westendorf; eight great-grandnieces and great-grandnephews. Other than her parents, she is predeceased by her sisters, Helen Westendorf, Marie Hyland and Walter Westendorf. Calling hours are from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday at Mentley Funeral Home in Little Valley. The funeral service will be held at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Ellicottville, at 11 a.m. on Saturday, (Oct. 22, 2016). Interment to follow at Little Valley Rural Cemetery in Little Valley. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to St. Paul's Church.
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